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wherein this want of faith particularly was found, it seems by no means an unlikely answer that has been given, that it was in refusing to offer a bloody sacrifice, as God had required, and thus disregarding all the high and solemn designs for which the institution was appointed. He seems to have followed his own reason, rather than the commandment of heaven, and, because he could discern no propriety in the slaying of an animal as an act of religious worship, to have persuaded himself that an offering without blood was the most suitable to be presented to a God who was infinitely merciful and good. Thus he made no account of his own sinfulness, and slighted the blood of atonement, presumptuously pretending to come before the Holy One, as if he had never offended, and the way had been free of all hindrance to the throne of mercy.
It has been generally believed, that the way in which God discovered his acceptance of Abel's sacrifice, was by causing fire to descend in a miraculous manner, and consume it, while that of Cain received no such mark of regard. It is clear that some open and striking sign of his approbation was given, that was easy to be understood; and it must be acknowledged altogether probable, that it was no other than this, which was in certain cases made such a token, we know, in later times. Thus the Lord testified of his gifts, and showed himself well pleased with the piety that presented them, while those of Cain were left without approbation and without notice. We find in subsequent history, repeated instances, in which the divine acceptance of sacrifices was testified in this same way. Thus the Lord answered David and Elijah, and thus he furnished the altar with holy fire, directly after the consecration of the tabernacle first, and afterwards of the temple. (Lev. ix. 24. Judg. vi. 21. 1 Kings xviii. 38. 1 Chron. xxi. 26. 2 Chron. vii. 1.) Whence it is reasonable to suppose, that the same token was given also in other cases, where God is said to have accepted the service, though it is not expressly mentioned; and it is by no means unlikely, that all along from the beginning, such displays of heavenly approbation were often granted, for the encouragement of faith, and to put honour upon the divine institution of Sacrifice.
As God's people are sometimes figuratively not properly, represented to be priests, so the various kinds of spiritual service with which they honour him, are not unfrequently, in the same figurative way, spoken of as sacrifices. As among the Jews, offerings of this sort entered so very extensively into their whole system of worship, and were in their nature expressive of different pious feelings, unaccompanied by which they had no worth, it was altogether natural, that the language of piety should borrow from their use, a great number of images, and mingle in its habitual phraseology, a great variety of terms derived from the altar and its solemn rites. Thus, accordingly, we find it all through the sacred volume. The Psalms especially, and the writings of the prophets, abound with this sort of imagery and allusion. We meet with it also repeatedly in the New Testament: we are urged to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, to offer continually the sacrifice of praise, &c.; so we hear Paul speaking of his ministry among the Gentiles as a priestly work, and of their conversion as an offering, rendered through his instrumentality, to the Lord; and again, of his life being poured out as a drink-offering upon the sacrifice and service of their faith. (Rom. xii. 1. xv. 16. Phil. ii. 17. 2 Tim. iv. 6. Heb. xiii. 15, 16. 1 Peter ii. 5.)
SACRED TIMES AND SOLEMNITIES.
As certain places were more holy than others, in the Jewish economy, and were honoured with special regard, so there were certain hours and days and seasons, considered in like manner more sacred than other times, and distinguished accordingly by particular religious observances. These now call for our notice, and will lead us to contemplate in order the regular public worship of the Sanctuary; as this, of course, was determined to such stated times from year to year.
THE DAILY SERVICE.
THERE was a regular public service required to be performed every morning and every evening. Each altar was to smoke so often, at least, with its appropriate offering, presented in behalf of the whole nation. (Ex. xxix. 38-42. xxx. 7, 8.) The hours at which these sacrifices were regularly performed, came naturally to be considered as somewhat sacred and appropriate in a peculiar manner for the business of devotion.
The law prescribed no precise time for the service of the morning, but directed that the offering of the second lamb should take place between the two evenings. It is not clear, however, whether the first evening began originally, according to the way of reckoning that was used in later ages, sometime before the going down of the sun, and with it, gave place to the second; or whether it only commenced itself at sunset, and yielded to the other at dusk. Of the particular manner, moreover, of either service before the captivity, we have no account. In later times, though con
formed as far as there was knowledge, to ancient usage, it was no doubt in many respects different from what it had originally been, especially by reason of various vain ceremonies added to it, such as were so abundantly multiplied during the second temple, in every part of the national religion. The Daily Service, as it was thus found in the age of our Saviour, is described with sufficient fulness in the Jewish writings, according to the very ancient tradition of their ancestors. The following is a brief summary of the account of it that has been collected from this quarter.
The priests who were on duty at the temple, had their chief place of residence, when not immediately engaged in their public work, in the north-west corner of the Court of Israel. Here was a very large building, having a great room in the middle of it, with four others of less size, that opened into this, and were placed around it, one at each corner. This central hall was styled the House of burning, because a fire was kept constantly in it, in cold weather, by which the priests might warm themselves during the day, when chilled in their work, and be kept comfortable through the night. Here the principal one of their three particular guards or watches, was continually stationed. Such as were not required to continue awake in this service, sought sleep for themselves on benches round about the room, or, if they were of the younger class, on the naked floor itself. Having thus passed the night, they were required to have themselves in readiness here, very early in the morning, for going forth, according to order, to engage in the business of the day. This readiness consisted in being bathed, and dressed in their sacred garments. No one, it was held, might go into the Court where he was to serve, until he had washed his whole body in water; and, accordingly, they had several rooms fitted up as bathing places for this purpose. After this first washing, it was not commonly necessary to wash again during the day, more than the hands and the feet: that, however, was to be done every time any one came into the Court of the priests, after having gone out, no matter how frequently this might be.
Thus ready, they waited till one styled the President came,
according to his office, to lead them forth, and assign them their duties. When he was come, they all passed together out into the Court, with candles in their hands, and there dividing themselves into two companies, began solemnly to inove round the temple, half taking to the right, and the other half to the left. Having met on the opposite side, the inquiry was made, Is all safe and well? and the answer returned, Yes, all is well; and then immediately the pastry-man, who had his chamber in that quarter, was called apon to get ready the cakes for the high-priest's daily meat-offering. After this, they all withdrew to a particular room, in a building of considerable size, that stood at the south-east corner of the court, for the purpose of having it determined by lot, who should perform the first duties of the day. This was done by the president.
The first lot designated the one who should cleanse the altar of burnt-offering; and as soon as it was made known, he went out and set about his work. His particular part, however, was merely to make a beginning in this service, which was regarded as an honourable privilege, and not by himself to carry it through; as soon as he had so done, other priests came to his assistance, and separating any pieces that might be left of the last day's evening sacrifice, to the one side, scraped together the ashes, and had them in a short time carried away, so as to leave the altar fit for new employment. These ashes were borne to a place without the city, where the wind could not easily scatter them, and no person might ever put them to any use whatever. The cleansing of the altar in this way was begun, on common days, at the dawn of day; but during the three great festivals, much sooner, and on the day of atonement, as early as midnight itself. The work was concluded by putting the fire in order, and placing in it any pieces that were left of the last offered victim, so as to have them completely consumed.
This first service over, the priests withdrew again to the room where the lot was given, and had a second class of duties distributed among thirteen of their number. One of these duties was to kill the morning victim; another, to sprinkle' its blood; a third, to dress the altar of incense, &c. Half of them were merely to carry certain particular por